A tribute to India’s Most Fearless Bravehearts

Indian Bravehearts. Image credit: Yogesh Tyagi

IBNS: It was an evening dedicated to valour and sacrifice of those who showed exemplary courage in the face of death while fighting for their Motherland. Purnima Sharma reports the launch of ‘India’s Most Fearless 3 — New Military Stories of Unimaginable Courage and Sacrifice’ at an event that brought together three services chiefs of India

‘The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier (and his family) who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war” – American general, Douglas MacArthur.

Starting with a quote by the celebrated American general, India’s Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari set the tone for an emotionally charged patriotic evening this winter in the national capital at the launch of ‘India’s Most Fearless 3 — New Military Stories of Unimaginable Courage and Sacrifice’. The book is an ode to the valour and supreme sacrifices of the men in uniform.

Braving not just the cold winter evening of New Delhi, but also a huge traffic jam around New Delhi’s Connaught Place area, personnel from the Armed Forces, their families, veteran officers, and the Capital’s literati gathered at IGNCA (Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts) recently for the launch of ‘India’s Most Fearless 3 — New Military Stories of Unimaginable Courage and Sacrifice’.

Written by Shiv Aroor and Rahul Singh, and published by Penguin, the book is a tribute to the valor and sacrifice of the Indian soldiers. It also includes an exclusive first-hand account of the 2020 Galwan clash.

The book was released by the Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pandey, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Radhakrishnan Hari Kumar and Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari in the presence of IGNCA’s Pratap Anand Jha, Ehsas Woman of Delhi Nilima Adhar Dalmia, the editor of the book Milie Ashwarya, and Anindita Chatterjee, executive trustee of the Prabha Khaitan Foundation.

Says Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari: “I compliment the authors for a fascinating narration of well-researched and documented stories.”

“The Indian Armed Forces symbolize courage, valor, and sacrifice,” he says.

The success of the India’s Most Fearless trilogy, according to him, is a testimony to the fact that people are fascinated by the exemplary courage of our Bravehearts in uniform.

“Their stories not only offer a glimpse into their indomitable spirit and daredevil actions in the face of overwhelming odds but will also serve as a source of inspiration for many future generations to come,” Air Marshal Chaudhari goes on to say.

Calling it an exceptionally good book, Admiral R Hari Kumar says: “All its stories are wholesome with the authors talking extensively to families, fellow officers, friends of the martyrs, etc. rather than letting them just be an account of events.”

He mentions the two vividly written naval stories in the book highlighting the challenge of the seas as an operating environment that not many are aware of or understand.

Admiral Hari Kumar cites examples of sea blindness which is an endemic disease since people live mostly on land and not on the sea. So there is a constant need for people to be aware of what it has to offer and the challenges it throws up for soldiers.

He says there is a need for people to be aware of the perils of going into a cyclone for rescue operations, the nuances of ship handling in rough weather, the challenges of diving into the sea and picking up survivors during rough weather, and even at night.

“All that has been covered in great detail in the book. More such stories need to come out to not just stay alive in the collective memory of readers but also to instill feelings of patriotism and national pride among them.”

Talking about stories from the different arms of our Services including one from the Medical Corps, General Manoj Pandey, says the book encapsulates the courage and sacrifices of the intrepid soldiers in a simple, readable yet lucid manner.

“The USP of the book lies in the fact that it gives us a vivid account of what our soldiers endure 24X7 through the year, while also giving insights into what their families have to go through.”

And then it was time for a panel discussion on the book between the three chiefs, the authors, and Nilima Adhar Dalmia who confessed to being “mesmerized by the book and weeping on almost every page”.

Talking about the most glorious moment of his illustrious career, the Air Chief recalls the time he was flying a Mig 29 aircraft when its canopy flew off in mid-air. It was a combination of skill, intuition, and training that got him out of that perilous situation. Not only did he manage to land his aircraft back safely but even he too escaped unharmed.

The sea must never be treated lightly but always be treated like a challenge, says Admiral Hari Kumar. “The way you overcome these challenges is what makes you grow from strength to strength. That is why I always tell my men — to always be prepared for whatever is lurking beneath even when the going seems good. For, that’s when the unexpected and the unpleasant can strike.”

When asked about how he motivates and keeps the fire burning in his soldiers, General Pandey reminds the culture and ethos of the Army that centers around the three concepts of Naam, Namak, and Nishan.

While the first is about honor and the need to always keep the name of your unit and regiment flying high, the second focuses on loyalty — to your Nation, to both your National and the Regimental flag. The third, Nishan, is to wholeheartedly identify with your unit, your Regiment, and your Nation. “And all this comes from a feeling of camaraderie and spirit, and the feeling and knowledge that there’s someone who will look after my family in case I perish,” he adds.

The authors, Shiv Aroor and Rahul Singh, shared their overwhelming experiences while writing the stories of our Bravehearts. They also called on the stage the family members of some of the martyred soldiers who have been featured in India’s Most Fearless.

To a standing ovation, Mandeep — the brother of Lance Naik Sandeep Singh, Prakash — an army veteran and brother of the Galwan hero Naik Deepak Singh, Mrs and Col KP Singh — parents of fighter pilot Grp Capt Varun Singh and the parents of Major Mohit Sharma walked up to the dais – it sure was a moment that touched many a heart and left many in the audience misty-eyed.

(Images by Yogesh Tyagi)